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Did you know that most Canadians are not making an effort to stay hydrated? And that it has an impact on overall health?

It’s crazy to think that three out of four people may not be drinking enough water. While most people have heard the common suggestion to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day, the exact amount isn’t that simple. Some suggest nine cups for women and 13 for men. Other say half your body weight in ounces of water. The fact is there are a lot of varying factors like environment, activity level, gender, and your overall health.

If you are an active person, you definitely need to drink more water than the average person. Because people who are physically active typically lose more water through sweat, they need to drink more water. 

Water makes up over half of our body weight so it makes sense that dehydration can cause problems in any person. It can be especially damaging to people who are physically active. Something as simple as lack of water can cause some complex health issues:

  • Fatigue
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney issues
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • High cholesterol
  • Skin disorders
  • Premature aging

In addition to everyday health, here are some of the ways water impacts your workout:

  • During one hour of exercise, you could lose up to two percent of your total body weight in water—anywhere from .8 to 1.4 liters
  • 50 percent of water lost during a workout normally isn’t replenished
  • Mild dehydration can cause up to 30% decrease in performance

Because you’re losing extra fluid during exercise, you need to pay special attention to the amount of water you drink before, during, and after a workout:

  • At least 15 minutes before you start your workout, you should drink 8-16 ounces of water
  • During exercise try to drink at least four ounces of water every 15–20 minutes
  • After exercise, drink at least 8 ounces of water.

Some of the basic signs of dehydration are thirst, dizziness, fatigue, headache, and headache. But sometimes extreme hydration can lead to heat illness. This is especially important to consider as an athlete, especially if you’re exercising outside in the heat. The three stages to heat illness are:

  1. Heat cramps—muscle cramps throughout the body
  2. Heat exhaustion—nausea, increased heart rate, low blood pressure
  3. Heat stroke—increased heart rate, delirium, loss of consciousness, seizures, and death

This just goes to show how important water is to our bodies and how important it is for us to make sure we’ve got enough. 

Also know that the best hydration for your body is plain water. Because of added sugar, sport drinks usually aren’t benefiting you unless you’re regularly working out for over an hour, when you may need to replenish electrolytes. And although you can hydrate with other liquids, water is your best bet for optimal hydration and health.